Staying Healthy on Trips Abroad

Published by August 20, 2009

A recent article in The Seattle Times discusses staying healthy on trips abroad.

“Before you embark on a major trip, especially to remote areas, make sure you have medical insurance and consider getting a checkup so you don’t have to deal with a health problem on the road. .

Cardiovascular issues are the No. 1 cause of death for Americans abroad, accounting for 50 percent of the 5,000 to 6,000 fatalities annually, says Dr. Brian Terry of the Healthy Traveler Clinic in Los Angeles, quoting the Journal of Travel Medicine.

Consider medical evacuation insurance; paying for an evacuation on your own can cost as much as $100,000. Single-trip travel insurance policies typically include evacuation and some medical care, plus protection against delays and lost luggage.

If you’re a frequent traveler, consider an annual medical evacuation policy like the one from Medjet Assistance.  This will get you to a hospital at home in case of a serious illness.”

Most travel insurance policies provide coverage for medical or dental emergencies while traveling.  It is important to recognize which policies are secondary and which are primary insurance coverage.  Secondary coverage means that the policyholder must first pursue a claim with their normal health insurance company, if they have primary health insurance.  Any costs not covered are then able to be included on the claim through the travel insurance company, up to the scheduled amount.  If the travel insurance emergency medical and dental coverage is primary, then the claim can go directly to the travel insurance carrier.  Also consider if the traveling party or family members of the travelers have any pre-existing medical conditions.  If so, then compare travel insurance plans to find a policy that will cover medical expenses, trip cancellation and trip interruption as a result of pre-existing conditions.

A travel insurance policy can be helpful in a situation where medical transportation is required.  Emergency Evacuation arranges to medically transport a patient to an appropriate medical facility. This can include an ambulance ride or even a helicopter lift from a cruise ship.  Medical Repatriation arranges for a patient to return home to receive care. Repatriation of Remains arranges for return of deceased remains back to the place of residence.  Without proper insurance, these expenses can be overwhelming.  Not all companies offer medical evacuation and repatriation as a separate benefit, some include it in the emergency medical and dental coverage.  This is an important distinction to make when evaluating a travel insurance quote, as the value may seem better, but some benefits are grouped together.  Always refer to the certificate of insurance for specific details.